Died Jane Birkin, so the actress inspired Mr. Hermés to create the most expensive bag in the world

Died Jane Birkin, so the actress inspired Mr. Hermés to create the most expensive bag in the world
Died Jane Birkin, so the actress inspired Mr. Hermés to create the most expensive bag in the world

And we can bet that now, with his sudden disappearance, Birkins will become even more an object of desire

What’s the last word for a woman who goes around with a wicker basket on her arm? Become the muse of the most expensive leather bag in the world. The essence and magic of Jane Birkin, who passed away today at the age of 76 at her home in Paris. She is English naturalized French, pop icon and style teacher, she has made a synthesis of antitheses in her life, leaving her mark in music, cinema and fashion.

And it was to the world of fashion that he left the greatest legacy, the very expensive bag that bears his name: the Hermes Birkin. Just her, who went around with a Portuguese wicker basket on her arm, bought in the Sixties in a London flea market and which became her symbolic accessory. She wore it in the evenings with partner Serge Gainsbourg, at social parties and for shopping. She even once on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival: for the occasion she had wrapped the handle with a silk scarf. “It was my certaintyhe said in an interview with Vogue.

He put his whole life in there, the mess of personal belongings it contained was a reflection of his histrionic and passionate mind. That basket helped to make her a muse, first impressing on the collective imagination the slightly rebellious sexy girl and then the mature woman, elegantly slightly worn, beautiful with an almost wild and primitive naturalness.

Until, legend has it, one day in 1984 she found herself sitting on an airplane next to the then executive president of Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas, who, observing her while she was intent on preventing the basket from spilling onto the ground, asked her why she never use a more practical bag to hold all his things. “What can you do, Hermès doesn’t make bags with pockets“, the response of the actress, unaware of who her interlocutor was. To which Dumas, taken aback, revealed his identity, introducing himself with no less than an “I am Hermès”. And, intrigued, he used the entire duration of the trip to question Jane Birkin on what her ideal bag should look like.

So she took one of those small bags for vomiting that are always found in the pockets of airplane seats and began to sketch his bag of dreams: the starting model was that of Kelly, but simpler, larger and more functional. Not one of the Hermès suitcases but certainly roomy. A bit like the Haut à Courroies, the historic leather and canvas riding bag, but more chic. It had to be something he could use for shopping and going to galas, just like his wicker basket. Talking and discussing in that completely random and improvised brainstorming, the ideal Birkin bag began to take shape, in a perfect balance of practicality, elegance and uniqueness.

So Hermés launched what it is today on the market the most expensive bag in the world. 7 thousand euros is its basic price, for a few and very select customers willing to wait even years to get it. Not to mention those who managed to spend 255,700 euros for the precious Himalaya model in crocodile leather and diamonds, auctioned off at Christie’s or for the very rare Faubourg sold at the record price of 158,000 euros in May 2022 on the second-hand portal of luxury Vestaire Collective. Over the years, in fact, the French fashion house has indulged itself in creating models and limited editions of all kinds, using the most exclusive leathers, precious stones and art prints.

Today the Birkin bag has entered the myth and even more mythological are the images of Jane who shows it on her arm, always full of things, papers, newspapers, life. On the other hand, she has always abused her bags, using them to the point of wear and tear, embellishing them in her own way, just like she did with her wicker basket. “I thought it was more fun to hang something on it,” she once said CBS – Like this I hang my watch and all my bracelets on it, they jingle when I walk“. And we can bet that now, with her sudden disappearance, Birkins will become even more of an object of desire.

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